The diachronic syntax of negated adjuncts in English

  • Richard Ingham
  • Susagna TubauEmail author


In this paper we investigate the diachronic changes in negation and Emphatic Focus that are responsible for the distribution of negated adjuncts in Present Day English. These can occur clause-medially and clause-initially, but generally not clause-finally. While clause-initial negated adjuncts move to the left-periphery triggering Negative Inversion for emphasis, clause-medial negated adjuncts are argued to occur in their first-merged position as vP-adjuncts. We relate the inability of clause-final negated adjuncts to express sentential negation to the loss of Prosodic-movement and Negative Concord in the transition from Late Middle English to Early Modern English. The eventual loss of Negative Concord is related to the reanalysis of negative words from non-negative (i.e. [uNeg]) to negative (i.e. [iNeg]). Upon loss of Prosodic-movement, reanalysis of negative words as [iNeg] results in the rise of Negative Inversion to express Focus.


Negated adjuncts Negative inversion Negative concord Prosodic-movement Focus Late Middle English 



This research has been funded by two research grants awarded by the Spanish Ministerio de Indústria, Economía y Competitividad (FFI2017-8254-P, FFI2016-81750-REDT), and by a grant awarded by the Generalitat de Catalunya to the Centre de Lingüística Teòrica (2017SGR634). We would like to thank three anonymous reviewers and the handling editor for comments and suggestions on how to improve the manuscript. All errors remain our own.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies, School of HumanitiesUniversity of WestminsterLondonUK
  2. 2.Departament de Filologia Anglesa i de Germanística, Facultat de Filosofia i Lletres, Carrer de la FortunaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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